Rockwell man to serve 2-3 years for 2015 murder of Richfield man

Published 2:03 pm Thursday, March 30, 2017

By Shavonne Walker

SALISBURY — A Rockwell man will serve just over two to three years in prison following a plea hearing held Wednesday for the 2015 murder of a Richfield man whose decomposed remains were found on the side of a hill off Bringle Ferry Road, near River Road.

Jessie Gary Rhodes, 36, was charged Dec. 18, 2015, with the first-degree murder of 57-year-old James Michael Beam, who’d been reported missing since July of that year but had not been seen since Easter.

Rhodes pleaded guilty of the lesser offense of involuntary manslaughter. He will serve 25 months to 39 months in prison. Rhodes, who has been in the Rowan County Detention Center without bond since his arrest, will receive credit for the 467 days served there, court records show.

Rowan County authorities received information that Beam had been murdered and his body was disposed of, officials have said. On Dec. 12, hunters discovered decomposed skeletal remains.

Officials identified the remains as that of James Beam. Rhodes had been developed as a suspect and an arrest was made. No motive was ever stated. Rhodes was convicted in Rowan Superior Court.

Beam was an East Rowan High graduate and attended Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. During his career, he worked at Bendix Corp., Finetex Chemical Company, and for 15 years at Philip Morris in Concord.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.